Traveling at 200,000 miles per hour, over 100 lightning strikes travel from clouds down to the earth’s surface every second of every day. The electrical discharge is brief, powerful, and persistent, much like the enthusiasm for the F-150 hot-rodded by Ford’s now-defunct Special Vehicle Team — the SVT Lightning.
It’s been a decade and a half since Ford SVT produced these potent sport trucks, and more than a quarter century since the first generation Lightnings created a new category with their performance capability.
Over the years, these trucks, and their Harley-Davidson F-150 cousins, gained many loyal fans, and long served as the primary customer base for few specialty shops dedicated making these trucks faster. There are also still plenty of enthusiasts driving, modding, and enjoying these special trucks to this day, and once a year many of them gather at the Southeastern Lightnings And Harley Trucks meet.
“It is all about the community. We are a tight-knit group. Every member has the passion to be a part of something special. I mean, these trucks are 15 years old from last production, and 26 years old from the first Gen 1 in 1993,” the event’s coordinator, Thomas McGee, explained.
This year’s gathering took place in Daytona Beach, Florida, where plenty of trucks came together for a variety of activities, including a beach cruise, Daytona International Speedway parade laps, a raffle, and of course, a truck show.
“Since I took over the meet four years ago, my goal was 100 trucks and to drive on the 500. We came close with a final count of 89 total,” Thomas said. “To have the ability to drive on the Daytona 500, that experience, and to see everyone’s posts, comments when they went into the tunnel, to drive into the pits, that is a once in a lifetime experience for some, and that is my goal — a lifetime of memories.”
In 2019, you might be lucky to see one of these impressive trucks, so the opportunity to see a large gathering of SVT trucks in one spot inspired us to take a day trip over to the World Center of Racing to observe the trucks and the owners who are still charged up about them after all these years.
There was a great turnout and a wide variety of trucks that attended. We captured the highlights here and most of the trucks in the gallery below. Of course, with this year’s meet in the rearview mirror it is already time to start thinking about the 2020 event, and Thomas has his work cut out for him to out-do this year’s shindig.
“This event in all of the four years was the toughest one to date, I try every year to one-up the previous year, and I think I did it. So next year will be even more amazing,” Thomas enthused. “I was told by a longtime community member that he remembered going to Lightning Fest in 2007, and there were, at best, 80 trucks and it was huge. He told me that 12 years later we surpassed that Lightning Fest experience.”
If you love these trucks and might want to attend next year’s gathering, you can search for the group on Facebook to keep up with the latest news.
Photography by Steve Turner
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